CBI, BCC slam "unworkable" EU law on temps

The CBI has attacked an EU directive on temporary agency workers, describing it as "unworkable for companies and for workers".



The British Chambers of Commerce, representing 135,000 businesses throughout the UK, also said that it was "shocked by the short sighted proposal".



The proposed European directive aims to provide the UK's 'temporary workers' with the same pay and rights as permanent staff after six weeks continuous work for the same employer. The proposal has left British industry up in arms - the key argument being that that this 'one size fits all' approach would not work in the UK, which has a culture of temps worth £21bn.



John Cridland, Deputy Director-General or the CBI, said: "This proposal claims to be about employment protection for agency staff. But in reality it will undermine opportunities for people who want to do temporary work.



"We fully support the principle of equal treatment but European law must not damage our labour market. Requiring firms to match the terms and conditions of temps with permanent staff would actually reduce temping opportunities.



"At the moment when firms take on agency temps they do not get involved in the details of a temp's contract. But under these proposal that would not be possible, making it harder to take people on. No one - least of all agency temps - gains from this."



Mr Cridland added that the CBI was "deeply disappointed" by a proposed Commission compromise, which fails to take the concerns of business properly into account.



"A six-week qualifying period before equal treatment rights apply is a wholly inadequate response because most temp assignments last longer than this. It would only help firms covering holidays and would remove flexibility for employers covering for vacancies and maternity leave for example."



David Lennan, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:



"We cannot afford the EU Directive to restrict short term agency work opportunities. Employers will need to rely more and more on agency workers to cover absences resulting from the increased maternity and paternity rights. These proposals will fly in the face of anything that the Government could do on helping small firms in particular to manage absences.



"The EU Directive should not cover temporary workers, who work for a company for a period of say 18 months, which would allow employers to cover for new extended maternity leave of up to one year. Beyond that period of time, an agency worker is effectively fulfilling a permanent position, and therefore the Directive could be much more justified."

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